Press freedom

A collaboration between the Law School 
and School of Communication and Arts
Led by Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh and Professor Peter Greste

Law can threaten press freedom, and also protect it. How do we get the balance right?

Press freedom is central to the rule of law and free speech in a liberal democracy. In Australia, press freedom lacks the legal protection or recognition found elsewhere. This has allowed our laws to encroach on press freedom and led to a ‘chilling effect’ across public interest journalism.

Join the conversation on Twitter #uqpressfreedom

In 2019, following successive police raids on journalists, Australia dropped 5 places (to 26) in the World Press Freedom Index. Whilst Australia was once the model for press freedom in the Asia-Pacific Region, Reporters Sans Frontiers’ reported that it “is now characterised by its threats to the confidentiality of sources and to investigative journalism.”

Senior law lecturer Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh and and Professor of Journalism Peter Greste lead a team working to restore press freedom with a combination of legal analysis and on-the-ground research. 

On this page:

Reforms needed to Australian law

Get the background and our recommendations in brief:

rusty shield

Shield Laws to better protect source confidentiality


whistle hanging from a yellow lanyard

Protection for public sector whistleblowers

Police Do not cross tape

Espionage laws to protect national security and press freedom


View all our publications >

Why press freedom?

Watch Dr Ananian-Welsh discuss what inspired her to start research into press freedom and how the suite of policy papers came about. 

New Frontiers of Research Episode 1: Press Freedom from UQ Law on Vimeo with transcript (5m:06s).

Rebecca Ananian-Welsh in conversation with Peter Greste


In this interview, award-winning journalist, press freedom advocate and UNESCO Chair in Journalism and Communications at UQ, Professor Peter Greste, speaks with Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh about press freedom in Australia. With an introduction by Deborah Terry OA, UQ Vice Chancellor and President on the occasion of Dr Ananian-Welsh winning the Paul Bourke Award for excellence in social sciences scholarship (YouTube, 42m)

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